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politics

State Gets Power To Identify, Fix Dangerous Railroad Crossings

From left, Alan Brody, husband of Ellen Brody; Sen. Terrence Murphy, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, Sen. David Carlucci and Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi, speak about railroad crossing safety in Valhalla Thursday.
From left, Alan Brody, husband of Ellen Brody; Sen. Terrence Murphy, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, Sen. David Carlucci and Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi, speak about railroad crossing safety in Valhalla Thursday. Photo Credit: Provided

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- State Sen. David Carlucci, whose just-signed law allows for a comprehensive review of rail crossings, appeared Thursday at the site of a deadly train-car collision in Valhalla.

Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the rail safety bill into law Monday.

The bill was sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D- Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant.

Under the new legislation, the state will, after taking stock of dangerous crossings and reviewing their traffic and pedestrian warning signals, be able to fix them, Carlucci said.

“As our rail infrastructure continues to crumble, we’ve seen an increase in rail accidents, some of which have been right in our backyard,” Carlucci said, referring to the Feb. 3, 2015 collision, the worst in terms of deaths in the railroad’s history.

Carlucci and Abinanti were accompanied at the press conference in Mount Pleasant hamlet by Alan Brody, husband of the driver of the SUV that was hit at the Commerce Street crossing; Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, and Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi.

Edgemont resident Ellen Brody had just left her job in Chappaqua and was heading to Scarsdale to meet a client when her SUV somehow got onto the tracks and was struck by a Metro-North Harlem Line train.

Brody, the 49-year-old mother of three, and five other people were killed. Fifteen people on the train were injured.

According to media reports, the National Transportation Safety Board released documents in late 2015 that offered hints about the direction of its investigation but didn’t reach a conclusion on the crash’s cause.

According to Carlucci spokesman Estaban Maccera, as of this fall, a final report had not been released.

The lawmakers also pointed out that, this past April, there was a rail-crossing crash in Bedford that involved a Metro-North train and a passenger vehicle occurred.

According to media reports, no one was injured in that incident at Green Lane but service on the Harlem Line was severely disrupted.

The driver, identified as 43-year-old Joyce Opoku of New Windsor, told police that she was stopped at the crossing when the gates came down on her car, according to a report by lohud.com.

To read the lohud.com article, click here.

Under the new law, the state will examine the following:

  • The safety of level-grade crossings and the feasibility of implementing design changes to increase safety and to reduce the likelihood of obstructions.
  • The adequacy of traffic and pedestrian warning signals.
  • Any federal funding available for safety improvement projects.
  • The feasibility of equipping commuter trains with technology to increase safety.
  • Which level grade rail crossings are considered to be the most dangerous throughout the state.

Abinanti applauded the governor for “acting on his promise to work to make New York grade crossings safer.”

“This is a good step forward,” the assemblyman added.

To read about a related rail safety bill, click here.

To read a related story about the Valhalla tragedy, click here.

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